New UN Report on Species Extinction Highlights Need for Fishing Reform

Science shows sustainable fishing practices can have benefits across the marine ecosystem

May 7, 2019
Matt Smelser,, (202) 572-3272

(RALEIGH – May 7, 2019) A report from the United Nations on dramatic acceleration of species extinction threatening human well-being highlights the need to put fisheries reforms in place that will allow for sustainable seafood production and resilient ecosystems. 

The new report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services (IPBES) raises the threat of extinction for one million species around the world and is believed to be the most comprehensive assessment of its kind ever assembled. It includes alarming analysis on the health of global marine ecosystems, including that a third of fisheries are presently overfished and that more than 33 percent of marine mammal species are threatened with extinction.

The following is a statement from Dr. Douglas Rader, Chief Ocean Scientist, Environmental Defense Fund:

“This report should serve as a warning siren to all those responsible for oceans management. The findings are alarming and the threats are real. We know that if nothing changes, by 2030 more than 80 percent of global fisheries will be in serious trouble. Global climate change is only accelerating the severity of the problem, including a projected decline in potential harvest for nearly half of the world’s fish stocks.

“The good news is that new science is showing us that the tools we’re using to reform fisheries around the world can help reverse some of these alarming trends. Sustainable fishing reforms can both prevent dramatic declines in fishing populations and help to make the ocean, and all who depend on it, more resilient to climate change.

“With the right fishing reforms in place, and if we can limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius the ocean can produce nearly a third more fish than exists today by 2100, rather than a nearly 20 percent decline if we do nothing.

“Healthy fisheries can also play a critical role in preventing the decline in other marine wildlife. New research has shown that fixing the way we manage fishing can reduce and even reverse the loss of 50 percent of rare and threatened species, including sea turtles and marine mammals like dolphins and whales.

“The IPBES is right, we must move faster to adopt these reforms, and if we do, the benefits will not only prevent disaster, but can help foster a better future.

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